Following conversation sparked from some thoughts on Bonhoeffer and Adam's thoughts, I've been thinking about authority and pastoral identity. As a postmodern, I'm inclined to distrust and critique the modern creation known as the "pastor." Why? There are many reasons, but here's only a few.
Many pastors hold so much authority that they are held to higher standards than normal people. Catch that, we're even comfortable dislocating the pastor from the congregation, the lay people and the pastor, there again arises the sacred/secular divide. It seems that pastors, because they are given the spotlight can represent all that is bad or wrong with the church or must hold all that is good and right with it. This is simply too much responsibility for an individual, but rather authority must be carried in community.
Here's where I take issue with theologians like Moltmann who over emphasize the democratic nature of the church so much that any semblance of an authoritarian figure is bad. In reality our churches are full of busy people, thus there must be room for the church to appoint certain people to take care of ministerial and administrative duties.
Good Reformationists would say that authority lies in the Scripture, but the question is still who has the authority to interpret the Scripture: the pastor or people? I see a need for a healthy interplay between both. All communities will have leaders that hold more authority in the congregation, and it is healthy only when that person or group of persons is given that authority by the community. Authority ultimately lies in Christ working though the Holy Spirit represented by the whole of the church. Thus, not only must there be interplay between leaders and the community, but there must be interplay between communities of different theological, geographical, political, and socio-economic difference.
What are your thoughts on authority in the church, especially in light of "pastoral" identity?